Mikko Koivu (right) got the Wild on the board early with assists from Jared Spurgeon and Jeff Taffe, who had just arrived from Houston to join Koivu’s first line.
Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press
Wild wins sixth in row on road
- Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
- Star Tribune
- December 9, 2011 - 7:55 AM
LOS ANGELES - As Matt Hackett did a TV interview after his NHL debut victory Tuesday in San Jose, goalie coach Bob Mason walked by and gave Hackett a big thumbs up.
So imagine Mason's glee Thursday morning when he got to tell the 21-year-old rookie he would be making his first NHL start later that night against the Los Angeles Kings.
"He was all smiles," coach Mike Yeo said. "Mase likes to do those things, like they're his children."
Well, Mason had to be one proud papa after Hackett lifted the depleted Wild, which was without injured Devin Setoguchi and Cal Clutterbuck and ejected Kyle Brodziak, to a 4-2 victory at the Staples Center.
Hackett made 42 saves as the league-leading Wild swept the three California teams on the same road trip for the first time in history.
''This has been the best 72 hours of my life,'' Hackett said.
The Wild established a team record with its sixth consecutive road victory and won for a sixth consecutive time overall for the first time since March 2007.
The Wild has given up the game's first goal 18 times, winning 12 of those games. But Thursday, it was reminded for a change what it's like to play from the lead when Mikko Koivu scored 24 seconds in for the fastest goal to start a road game in Wild history.
Hackett, who flashed several quick gloves and pad saves, had his shutout ruined by Dustin Penner 3:59 into the third. After stopping all 34 shots he saw in San Jose, it was the first goal Hackett allowed in the first 102 minutes, 36 seconds of his career.
Darroll Powe scored a goal and had an assist for his first multi-point game with the Wild. Marco Scandella and Cody Almond also scored and Nick Johnson had two assists.
The last time the Wild was in Los Angeles on Nov. 12, it lost 5-2, and Yeo called it an embarrassment.
The next day, Yeo said, "Maybe two weeks from now, we'll look at this and say, 'Thank goodness we got our butts whipped in L.A. and got reminded what we have to do night in and night out to be a successful hockey team.'"
The Wild is 11-2 since.
When Clutterbuck surprised Yeo by being a no-go because of a leg injury, former Gopher Jeff Taffe catapulted into town for his Wild debut.
The Hastings native went from the minors to the Wild's first line with one plane trip, and then assisted on Koivu's goal before even having a chance to get sweat on his brow. Koivu hustled to retrieve a deflected Jared Spurgeon shot off the end boards and scored on a wraparound.
Powe scored 1:25 into the second when Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi, almost comically, fanned over and over again at Johnson's rebound in the paint. Powe found it first and tapped in his third goal.
Soon after though, the Wild was put in a precarious position when Brodziak, one of its top all-around forwards this season, was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding star Anze Kopitar.
It was a questionable call. Kopitar flew hard into the wall, but it came after a shoulder-on-shoulder check with the puck in the vicinity. The near ref, Brad Meier, didn't raise his arm, but fellow zebra Tim Peel came flying in from center-ice. Brodziak was given the boot, and Kopitar conveniently healed for the power play.
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